‘You have to aim for having 100 percent happy customers’

Edel Puntonet from Cuba is the founder of photo company EdelPhoto, the winner of two awards, after building his career in Umeå in northern Sweden over the past eight years.

'You have to aim for having 100 percent happy customers'
Edel Puntonet found his passion for photography through a friend. Photo: EdelPhoto

Born in Cuba in 1983, Edel Puntonet, 32, had not yet discovered his passion for photography when he moved to Sweden in 2007. Nor did he speak a word of Swedish when he arrived. So it is hard not to be impressed by his glowing career in Scandinavia.

Starting off as an egg packer in Umeå, in the north of Sweden, Puntonet now has a successful career as a photographer and runs a business in the city.

His journey started after a friend introduced him to photography and he quickly found his niche.

“I got a camera in my hands and then I said that I was going to be a photographer, I’m going to start a business and I am going to succeed,” Puntonet told The Local.

It took the Cuban just six months to get his first photo gig and three years later he had founded EdelPhotos, a company providing commercial photography, product photography and wedding photos.

Feeling as though he had achieved all of his core goals with the business, he then joined forces with Jo Kommunikation, a communications agency which provides services including writing press releases and creating online profiles and logos for companies. 

The successful photographer and businessman won several awards including Umeå's ‘Youth Entrepreneur of the Year’ prize and the ‘New Business of the Year’ award for the region of Västerbotten in 2015.

An example of what kind of photo service EdelPhoto provides. Photo: EdelPhoto.

Puntonet says that there are two major things to think about if you want to start a business in Sweden.

“I understood that two things are important. One, learn the language. The second thing is to create a network,” he explains.

“No matter if you are going to start a business or start a life in Sweden you have to get Swedish friends,” he adds.

To make any business successful Puntonet argues that you also have to make sure that both employees and customers are pleased and happy. He says that it is important to treat every consumer the same way, no matter if they are paying 20 kronor ($2,38) or 20,000 kronor ($2,377) for a company's services.

“Every single customer has to feel like they are the most important customer you’ve ever had,” he insists.

Another example of Edel's photography. Photo: EdelPhotos. 

Puntonet has managed to create a client base across the Nordics, picking up photography jobs in Norway, Denmark and Finland as well as Sweden and says he has learned to tailor his style for people living in the region.

“Especially here in Sweden, in Scandinavia, where people don’t like to be photographed, the responsibility of making people comfortable in front of the camera is in the hands of the photographer,” he says.

“When I am taking photos of someone who says ‘no, I hate this, I never look good on photos’ it starts something inside me. Then I know I have to get a good photo,” he continues.

A third example of Edel's work. Photo: EdelPhoto. 

Puntonet is a big fan of Sweden, saying the people here are “amazing” and that he cherishes the way the country creates opportunities for people to follow their interests.

“The freedom and opportunity of being able to fulfil your dreams, that’s what I like most about Sweden. You can do exactly what you want to do if you work hard,” he says.  

And while he says Swedes can be a little bit more “closed” than those from other cultured, he argues this is by no means a bad thing. 

“Sure, it takes longer time to become friends with them, but once you have become friends with a Swede, it is forever,” he smiles.

Article by Emma Lidman

For members


Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

A reader got in touch to ask how long he had to work in Sweden before he was eligible for a pension. Here are Sweden's pension rules, and how you can get your pension when the time comes.

Reader question: When am I eligible for a Swedish pension?

The Swedish pension is part of the country’s social insurance system, and it can seem like a confusing beast at times. The good news is that if you’re living and working here, you’ll almost certainly be earning towards a pension, and you’ll be able to get that money even if you move elsewhere before retirement.

You will start earning your Swedish general pension, or allmän pension, once you’ve earned over 20,431 kronor in a single year, and – for almost all kinds of pension in Sweden – there is no time limit on how long you must have lived in Sweden before you are eligible.

The exception is the minimum guarantee pension, or garantipension, which you can receive whether you’ve worked or not. To be eligible at all for this, you need to have lived in Sweden for a period of at least three years before you are 65 years old. 

“There’s a limit, but it’s a money limit,” Johan Andersson, press secretary at the Swedish Pension Agency told The Local about the general pension. “When you reach the point that you start paying tax, you start paying into your pension.”

“But you have to apply for your pension, make sure you get in touch with us when you want to start receiving it,” he said.

Here’s our in-depth guide on how you can maximise your Swedish pension, even if you’re only planning on staying in Sweden short-term.

Those who spend only a few years working in Sweden will earn a much smaller pension than people who work here for their whole lives, but they are still entitled to something – people who have worked in Sweden will keep their income pension, premium pension, supplementary pension and occupational pension that they have earned in Sweden, even if they move to another country. The pension is paid no matter where in the world you live, but must be applied for – it is not automatically paid out at retirement age.

If you retire in the EU/EEA, or another country with which Sweden has a pension agreement, you just need to apply to the pension authority in your country of residence in order to start drawing your Swedish pension. If you live in a different country, you should contact the Swedish Pensions Agency for advice on accessing your pension, which is done by filling out a form (look for the form called Ansök om allmän pension – om du är bosatt utanför Sverige).

The agency recommends beginning the application process at least three months before you plan to take the pension, and ideally six months beforehand if you live abroad. It’s possible to have the pension paid into either a Swedish bank account or an account outside Sweden.

A guarantee pension – for those who live on a low income or no income while in Sweden – can be paid to those living in Sweden, an EU/EEA country, Switzerland or, in some cases, Canada. This is the only Swedish pension which is affected by how long you’ve lived in Sweden – you can only receive it if you’ve lived in the country for at least three years before the age of 65.

“The guarantee pension is residence based,” Andersson said. “But it’s lower if you haven’t lived in Sweden for at least 40 years. You are eligible for it after living in Sweden for only three years, but it won’t be that much.”